Careful the things you say ~ Children will listen
Careful the things you do ~ Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen ~ Children will look to you for which way to turn
Careful before you say “Listen to me” ~ Children will listen
Careful the wish you make ~ Wishes are children
Careful the path they take ~ Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast ~ Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last ~ Past what you can see
And turn against you ~ Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell ~ Children will listen (©Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods)
I’m on a mission to get this post out before I see the first snowflake of the season which is coming within hours! I finally got around to changing the spring/summer header for the blog to something more seasonally appropriate (fall leaves). By tomorrow morning I will need to update again to a “winter scene” as the last of the fall leaves will be buried under a blanket of snow. I need to get one blog out with the fall header! Ok, enough about the weather.
I am a fan of DWTS ~ Dancing With The Stars for those of you in the know. I enjoy seeing a process whereby people who, for the most part, are not dancers become dancers. Each week they struggle to be something they were not just one week earlier. It reminds me of a crash course in life. As they weekly achieve new goals and physical transformation their definition of self blooms into new levels of self confidence and human potential.
I am amazed at their courage!! I think back to junior high school days (as middle schools had not been invented) and the fear, even in a small group of friends, of looking like a clumsy ox as I attempted to maneuver around the dance floor. As humans, our greatest need is to feel that we “belong.” Here are adults with the courage to step forward and dance in front of a live audience, focused only on them, and millions of people sitting in front of their TV screens.
Every season of DWTS I become more and more angry and concerned at ABC because they not only allow, I believe they encourage in the name of ratings, the bullying and public humiliation of those who take to their stage to perform. I am concerned from two perspectives. I am concerned because they are using their status as an “expert” to give themselves permission to make a personal attack on the celebrity dancers. I am even more concerned with the long term message this behavior carries.
The same TV network that will wear a certain color to celebrate acceptance and say no to bullying, will present this same behavior in another format and call it acceptable. How can you do news/documentary programs in which you tell kids to “just say no” to bullying, and report on the long term effects to the recipient (including suicide) and say hateful things to a guest on your DWTS show? I don’t get it!! You may as well save the money you spend to produce anti-bullying programing because we don’t believe you any more.
Did you ever hear the expression: “Actions speak louder than words?” ABC, as long as you allow this appalling behavior, the REAL message of how you feel about creating compassionate, safe and respectful environments in which your celebrity dancers can truly grow and thrive is clear. Some guests are nurtured and guided by the judges, the efforts of others are ignored or presented for ridicule. This is not just about Chaz Bono. This is not about this season only.
I was an educator/administrator for 30 years. I battled bullying daily in public schools. Before I ever put up one “Bully Free Zone” sign in the hallway, or adopted an anti-bullying curriculum, I looked in the mirror at my own words and behavior and that of my staff. Adolescents may do a good job of convincing us that they are not looking or listening. They may present the attitude that they will do the opposite of what we want, but the reality is, they are paying attention. They are listening. They are also looking to peers for alternative behaviors. The best thing we can do as adults to stop bullying, to stop abusive behavior toward others is to model behavior in which we embrace our differences and welcome universal acceptance. Our challenge is to be the model they choose.
I honestly cringe when I know one of the celebrities has their young children in the audience when it comes to the judge’s comments. No child should have to hear many of the comments made to “get a laugh” about their parent. Instead of becoming a part of the problem, I would like to challenge ABC to truly become a part of the solution by modelling respectful behavior in all situations to all living things.
Shame on you ABC for tossing aside those teachable moments of how to appropriately model methods of teaching what your “experts” know as well as how to support and encourage desired behaviors.
While I am angry with this particular show for the example it presents, each and every one of us has a choice to make daily. As we rise in the morning, look into that bathroom mirror we need to ask ourselves, “Am I going to spend today as part of the problem, or part of the solution?”
Check these resources for a place to see how you can help stop bullying:
National School Climate Center ~ http://www.schoolclimate.org
Stop Bullying. Gov ~ http://www.stopbullying.gov/
Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center ~ http://www.pacer.org/bullying/
Operation Respect ~ http://www.operationrespect.org/